Amenity zoning mooted for land in Johnstown

KILDARE county councillors have been advised of difficulties in fast tracking plans to zone land in Johnstown village for amenity purposes.

The land, the site of the old Johnstown Garden Centre, is now owned by the National Roads Authority, which had it during its upgrading work on the M7 motorway.

Cllr. Paddy McNamara told Monday’s Kildare County Council meeting that the Naas area cmmittee wanted the Johnstown Local Area Plan varied or amended to re-zone the land.

Local people want it to be an amenity area, said Cllr. McNamara.

The land, which was flooded this week, could be sold it is feared as it zoned currently for commercial purposes.

Director of Services, John Lahart, said the area plan did not come up for revision until next year and legally it would be complex to change the plan at this stage.

But councillors fear that a sale of the land by the National Road Authority could defeat their plans for an amenity area.

Cllr. McNamara said they did not want another twenty or thirty houses there on a flood plain or more commercial property. “Stop a mistake happening,” he said.

Cllr. Tony Lawlor seconded the proposal adding the area was under three to four feet or water this week.

Apart from advising against their motion on legal grounds, Mr. Lahart questioned whether the area was suitable for amenity open space seeing as it was so near the motorway.

Mr. Lahart said any planning application for development on the land would be based on its current (commercial) zoning.

Cllr. Lawlor raised the matter of a deal with the previous owners of the site and suggested that the deal with the NRA included the land reverting to amenity use.

Mr. Lahart said there was no deal between the NRA and the landowner.

Cllr. McNamara said it was urgent that the Council use its legal power to get the amenity zoning.

Cllr. Catherine Murphy said that it used to be more difficult to vary a plan but since the Planning and Development Act 2000, it has got easier. Now they were being told it is difficult.

Mr. Lahart advised them they could not pass their motion there and then.

Acting County Secretary, Charlie Talbot, said it would be illegal to pre-empt the planning process.

The Council agreed a proposal by Cllr. Willie Callaghan to amend to motion to start the Local Area Plan process during which they could vary or amend the plan to keep the area as open space.

Leinster Leader,  03 December 2009

By Henry Bauress

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